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Denver, Rapid City: Blizzard Follows Weekend Warmth

April 08, 2013; 6:00 AM

After a blast of weekend warmth, residents from Denver to Cheyenne to Rapid City may find it hard to believe that a blizzard is on the way.

The blizzard threatens to bring northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western South Dakota and western Nebraska to a standstill Monday night through Tuesday.

Strong winds severely blowing around heavy snow will dramatically reduce visibility and make driving extremely difficult, if not impossible. Officials may be forced to close stretches of interstates 25, 70, 80, 76 and 90.

That is true even though the Front Range is in the midst of a mild stretch of weather, which has helped warm road surfaces, and the strength of the April sun. The snow will come down hard enough to overcome both obstacles.

Parents should prepare for school closures, while airline passengers will likely face cancellations and/or lengthy delays.

Cities in the path of the blizzard include Denver, Fort Collins and Sterling, Colo., Casper, Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyo., Scottsbluff and Chadron, Neb., and Rapid City, S.D.

Snowfall totals in and around these cities will approach or top a foot.

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The blizzard is in the works despite the warm weekend that has unfolded across the Front Range. For many, the warmth will persist through Monday with temperatures set to soar back into the 60s across most of northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska.

This warmth will also help set the stage for another round of severe weather across the central and southern Plains later Monday.

Cold air plunging southward and interacting with the storm moving through the West is all that is needed for the blizzard to take shape.

The cold shot headed to Denver will be so intense that temperatures will plunge from the 60s at sunset Monday to the teens by daybreak Tuesday.

The difference in high temperatures from Monday to Tuesday will range from 20 to 40 degrees in Denver and elsewhere where the blizzard will howl.

A similar drop in temperatures will occur in Pueblo and Trinidad, Colo., despite these cities escaping the burying snow.

Before the blizzard unfolds in Denver, Cheyenne and Rapid City Monday night, accumulating snow will first push through Montana and North Dakota on Monday.

Then after the blizzard winds down Tuesday night, AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for the snow to shift eastward across the Upper Midwest.

The impending blizzard is not entirely bad news for the Front Range. Runoff from the snow, which will quickly melt once milder air arrives later in the week, will bring needed moisture to the region's parched soil.

Much of the Front Range is currently suffering from an extreme to exceptional drought, according to the latest report from the United States Drought Monitor.

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